The Mystery of the Missing Frat House: Research Questions at UMD Archives

The University Archives at Hornbake Library is home to a wealth of information about the history of our school, campus, and the College Park area. One of the frequent tasks that we perform is researching questions that people have about the university. Some of the most commonly requested information has been gathered together on the University of Maryland A to Z: MAC to Millennium website, but there are also questions that aren’t so easily answered and require a bit of detective work on our part.


One such question arrived in our inbox recently from an alumnus who wanted to know if we had any photos of his old frat house. He said he had graduated in 1955, and during his junior and senior years, he lived in the Alpha Chi Sigma house on campus, which he remembered as being an old farm house with a metal roof and a water pump on the front lawn. According to the gentleman, the house was demolished during the construction of Cole Field House. With this information in hand, I began my investigation to uncover what I could find about the AXE fraternity house.

Continue reading “The Mystery of the Missing Frat House: Research Questions at UMD Archives”

UMD123: 33

Thirty-three represents the number of previous presidents of the University of Maryland

Since its founding in 1856, the present-day University of Maryland, College Park, has operated under three different monikers and numerous forms of administration, but one thing has remained constant: a single person has been tasked with running the show. Dr. Wallace Loh heads just the 34th administration to guide the university, and our UMD123 number today recognizes the 33 men to hold the job (however temporarily) before him.

Presidents of the Maryland Agricultural College

Charles Benedict Calvert

The university was first chartered in 1856 as the Maryland Agricultural College on land that was part of the Riversdale estate of Charles Benedict Calvert. Classes began in 1859 with 34 students, including four of Calvert’s sons.

  1. Benjamin Hallowell, 1859 – President for one month. A Quaker who only took the job on the condition that slave labor not be used on the college farm.
  2. Charles Benedict Calvert, acting, 1859-60 – Our founder took the reins himself temporarily until a suitable replacement could be found.
  3. John Work Scott, 1860 – Elected president, but may never have even stepped foot on campus!
  4. John M. Colby, 1860-61 – Saw enrollment rise but then fall sharply with the approach of the Civil War.
  5. Henry Onderdonk, 1861-1864 – Forced to resign amidst accusations that he willingly harbored and feted Confederate soldiers under the command of General Bradley Johnson on their way to the assault of Fort Stevens in the capital.
  6. Nicholas B. Worthington, acting, 1864-1867 – A journalist and professor, he sold almost half of the original campus to meet outstanding debts. As a result of the college’s bankruptcy and the Maryland General Assembly’s decision to designate it a Morrill Land Grant institution, the State of Maryland takes a partial ownership stake in the college for the first time.
George Washington Custis Lee
  1. George Washington Custis Lee, 1866 – The son of Confederate general Robert E. Lee and descendant of Martha Washington, he was offered the position of president but eventually declined due to his loyalty to the Virginia Military Institute and opposition from the Maryland legislature
  2. Charles L. C. Minor, 1867-1868 – Another former Confederate officer, Minor had only 16 pupils when classes opened in 1867.
  3. Franklin Buchanan, 1868-1869 – Yet another former rebel, Buchanan was the first Superintendent of the Naval Academy in Annapolis before serving as the highest-ranking admiral in the Confederate Navy.
  4. Samuel Regester, 1869-1873 – A Methodist minister, Regester eliminated the Bachelor of Science degree and implemented rigid religious discipline.
  5. Samuel Jones, 1873-1875 – After a brief respite, the college once again elected a Confederate officer as president. Former Major General Samuel Jones greatly expanded the curriculum and shifted the focus away from agriculture and towards military training.
Cadets_Class of 1890
Cadets, Class of 1890
  1. William H. Parker, 1875-1882 – Parker saw service in the Civil War as a captain in the: _________ (you guessed it), Confederate Navy! He continued Jones’ unpopular focus on militarism until the state legislature pressured him to resign by threatening to withhold funding.
  2. Augustine J. Smith, 1883-1887 – A commercial agent for a manufacturing firm, Smith sought to build connections between the college and farmers throughout the state.
  3. James L. Bryan, 1887 – Head of schools in Dorchester county, Bryan declined the job after visiting campus.
  4. Allen Dodge, acting, 1887-1888 – A school trustee, Dodge filled in after Bryan turned down the presidency.
  5. Henry E. Alvord, 1888-1892 – In a shocking break with MAC presidential tradition, Alvord was a former major in the Union army. He shifted in the opposite direction of some previous administrations, choosing to focus the school’s efforts almost exclusively on agriculture
Richard W. Silvester
  1. Richard W. Silvester, 1892-1912 – The school’s first long-term president, Silvester served for two decades until a devastating fire the night of November 29, 1912, burned down two major buildings campus. Already in poor health and now faced with the enormous challenges of re-opening the college, Silvester resigned shortly after the conflagration.

Barracks burning, November 29, 1912

  1. Thomas H. Spence, acting, 1912-1913 – A professor of languages, Spence oversaw the construction of temporary buildings and dormitories as the college struggled to resume operations.
  2. Harry J. Patterson, 1913-1917 – The once-and-future director of the Agricultural Experiment Station (housed at the Rossborough Inn), which was unaffected by the fire), Patterson presided over the transfer of the college to full state control in 1916. H.J. Patterson Hall was later named in his honor.

Continue reading “UMD123: 33”

UMD123: 30

Thirty could be a lot of things at Maryland.

It could be the number of IFC fraternities currently on campus–but that’s 25.

It could be the number of food locations on campus–but that’s 39.

It could even be the insane number of credits you took this semester (it isn’t, but we know it feels like it.  That said, what were you thinking???)

Even Honey Boo Boo knows 21 credits was a bad idea.

No, 30 represents the number of days that Benjamin Hallowell, our first president, actually served in the job before resigning, all the way back in 1859.

Poor Benjamin Hallowell. Maryland’s first president, and perhaps its first dropout.

To be fair, Dr. Hallowell, a noted educator and abolitionist, was not initially aware that he had been chosen to be the first president of the Maryland Agricultural College.  The trustees apparently assumed he would take the position, as he had been advising them on matters relating to the college, so they went a step further and announced that he was the president at the college’s opening ceremonies on October 6, 1859, as well as acknowledging that Hallowell hadn’t been informed yet.

But wait!  There’s more.

Hallowell was soon told of his election and agreed to serve, but he was not prepared for the condition of the college when he arrived.  According to newspaper coverage of the college’s opening, there was still a great deal to do.  Landscaping remained unfinished, and the college’s barracks, which also served as chapel, classrooms, kitchen, dining hall, etc., was not complete. In fact, construction was so delayed on the Barracks that only one-third of the building was erected before it was destroyed by fire in 1912.


Only half the faculty had been appointed, and those professors who were on-site did almost nothing until Hallowell arrived to assume command–six weeks after the college opened.

No Jedi Master required.

As he later recorded in his autobiography, upon arriving, Hallowell observed that the faculty “had apparently been waiting for me…to organize the college…six weeks that had elapsed without regular order or government…in the earnest effort that I made to effect a proper organization, and secure a healthy order and discipline, my health gave way in about a month.”

Hallowell had for some time been suffering the ill effects of a prescription that had been mixed incorrectly and which had almost killed him.  Perhaps fearing that the Maryland Agricultural College would finish what the pharmacist had started, he “resigned the Presidency unconditionally.”  After a period of rest, he resumed his teaching and scientific research, until after another period of declining health, he passed away on September 7, 1877.

Hallowell’s brief tenure at the helm of the college led to a rapid succession of presidents, 15 more leaders over the next 33 years, until Richard Silvester offered a bit more stability. Sylvester served the college from 1892 to 1912.

This post is part of our new series on Terrapin Tales called UMD123! Similar to our “ABC’s of UMD” series last semester, posts in this series will take a look at the university’s history “by the numbers.” New posts will come out twice a month, on Wednesdays, throughout the semester; search “UMD123” or check out Twitter #UMD123 to see the rest. If you want to learn more about campus history, you can also visit our encyclopedia University of Maryland A to Z: MAC to Millennium for more UMD facts.

15 of the Most Iconic Front Pages From The Diamondback

The Diamondback student newspaper has been a huge part of the University of Maryland for over 100 years. Originally named The Triangle, The Diamondback has covered everything from local campus news to world events, national celebrations, and tragedies. In connection with our current Launch UMD campaign to raise money to digitize The Diamondback and make it available online worldwide, we have compiled a list of 15 of the most iconic Diamondback front pages dating all the way back to 1910.

Are there events or stories that we missed? With the Diamondback archive fully available online, you will be able to explore and make your own list. Make sure to check our Twitter and Facebook pages for more iconic front pages throughout the rest of April.

Continue reading “15 of the Most Iconic Front Pages From The Diamondback”

20 Maryland Students You Wish Were Your Roommates

It’s hard to forget the people we meet in college, and lots of times, these are the people you’ll know for the rest of your life! We’ve picked 20 UMD alumni or groups of students we think would be great roommates and life-long friends. See if you agree.


1. First, there’s Jim Henson- the creative roommate who can always keep you entertained.


Jim Henson created and performed with puppets even before be started at UMD. Shortly before his freshman year in 1954, he created Sam and Friends, a puppet show that was televised on local stations and featured a character named Kermit, later to become the famous Kermit the Frog. Henson graduated from UMD in 1960, with a degree in Home Economics.


2. And Connie Chung- the roommate who always knows what’s going on around campus.

Connie Chung_1966

Before she became a journalist and news anchor of national renown, Connie Chung was active in student government and journalism at UMD. On top of that, she was even elected freshman queen in 1966! Chung graduated in 1969 with a degree in journalism.


3. There’s the roommate who always thinks outside the box…

Drinking water the hard way, University of Maryland, circa 1974_2

There’s more than one way to drink from the fountain…


4. And Boomer Esiason- the roommate who is always there to drive you to class.

Boomer Esiason_1984

Raining? Class on the other side of campus?  Better get a ride! Before he graduated in 1984, star quarterback Boomer Esiason’s truck was a common sight at UMD. “That thing could go wherever it wanted to, where ever Boomer wanted to drive it,” said a former roommate, “and Boomer had a knack for seeing a parking spot where there was nothing but grass and bushes.” Better watch out for DOTS!


5. How about Judith Resnik- the roommate who can help you with your math homework.

Judith Resnick_1986

Judith Resnik spent several years at UMD as a graduate student, before receiving her Ph.D. in electrical engineering in 1977.  Her intense-sounding dissertation was titled “Bleaching Kinetics of Visual Pigments.” Afterwards, she became the second woman in space and spent 145 hours in orbit before being tragically killed in the Challenger explosion in 1986.


6. Or a roommate who will always watch your back.

Women's Rifle Team, ca. 1920-1930

The Women’s Rifle Team was founded at UMD in 1922 and dominated the national scene for nearly twenty years, featuring multiple national champions and an Olympian on the team. We think it’s safe to say they always hit their mark!


7. There’s also William Cole- the roommate who becomes your best friend.

William Cole_1910

The namesake of historic Cole Field House, William P. Cole was apparently obsessed with sports while he was a Civil Engineering student at the Maryland Agricultural College. According to his senior entry in the 1910 yearbook, he was known to watch baseball “for hours at a time,” not stopping for anything. But Cole was even more devoted to his friends then he was to baseball. After arriving at school, Cole was assigned a room with baseball star and class president Jackson Grason, and “to our knowledge has not left him since.”


8. And Juan Dixon- the roommate who you want on your rec basketball team.

Juan Dixon_2001

A two-time All-American and the holder of six school records including total points scored, Juan is the man you need on your squad for that intramural championship.


9.  Don’t forget food! Everyone needs a roommate who can keep you well fed.

Students at table in barracks with ham, Maryland Agricultural College, 1902

Yes, you’re reading this image correctly- these cadets are eyeing a big smoked ham hanging from the ceiling in this 1902 dorm room photo. And did we mention the stellar room-decorating skills?


10. Could your roommate secretly be Testudo?

Testudo mascot standing with Testudo statue, McKeldin Library, University of Maryland, circa 2003

Who is the student in the Testudo costume?  It could be anyone! But did you ever think it’s strange that you’ve never seen your roommate at any Maryland games?


11. Watch out for Harry Clifton “Curley” Byrd- the roommate who is a total heart-throb.

Curly Byrd_1908

Here’s what the 1908 yearbook had to say about Byrd: “when ‘Curly’ grins, watch out. Something is sure to break. His paths are strewn with the broken hearts of guileless maidens whom he has ‘loved to death,’ he-siren that he is, and never has our handsome Don Juan been found ‘de trop’ in feminine society.” Need we say anything else?


12. And there’s Tom McMillen- the roommate who has a killer sense of fashion.

Tom McMillan_1971

Three-time All-American, Academic All-American, Olympian, Rhodes Scholar, Tom McMillen graduated at the top of his class with a degree in chemistry in 1974.  During his years at UMD, McMillen was a lot more than a smart-looking coat and tie.


13. Boring day in the dorm? You need Munro Leaf- the roommate who is an awesome story teller.

If you haven’t already read the story of Ferdinand the Bull, you probably should! After Leaf wrote the popular story of the bull who would rather smell flowers than fight, it was published in more than 60 languages and even turned into a Disney film that won an Academy Award in 1938. Leaf was an English major and graduated in 1927.


14.Lost and can’t find your way around campus? Everyone needs a roommate who knows their way around UMD!

Freshman Becky Mewis getting directions, circa September 1958

It seems like there’s a new building or some kind of construction job every year at UMD. And let’s face it- we all needed help finding our classes freshman year.


15. And let’s not forget Gary Williams- the roommate who has to win everything.

Gary Williams_1965

Before this fist-pumping coach was leading the Terps to a national championship and hundreds of wins at home and on the road, Gary Williams was a determined student-athlete who would stop at nothing to win. In his student days at UMD, Gary spent long hours perfecting his skills on the basketball court. His hard work made him team captain in 1967, and he graduated with a school record in field goal percentage. Let’s just hope some of that work effort rubs off on you come finals time…


16. Need some help with tools? Here’s Millard Tydings- the roommate who can help you build things.

Millard Tydings_1900
Tydings is the one on far right.

For those of us who have had to put their dorm room furniture together or build projects for classes, look no further than Millard Tydings, Class of 1910. The future Maryland  Senator majored in Engineering and was a wiz with all things mechanical. If your construction project is going to take a while, you’re also in luck! Tydings was a gifted speaker and could talk about any subject for hours. Don’t say things are ever boring when he’s around.


17.And did we already mention that everyone needs a roommate who likes to eat?

Alpha Delta Pi Members Snacking, 1954

Because food is important when you’re a student, that’s why.


18. But if you’ve been eating TOO well, then there’s Randy White, the roommate who will go to the gym with you

Randy White_1974

Randy White wasn’t called half man and half monster for nothing. “The Manster” was a fearsome presence on the gridiron, earning All-American status twice and winning the Lombardi Trophy in 1974. The defensive end weighed 248 pounds, could bench-press 430 pounds, and ran the 40 in 4.6 seconds and is definitely the man you would want to spot you on the weight bench.


19. Most importantly though, everyone needs a roommate who can just be themselves, whether they’re just super chill…

Student Relaxing with in Residence, 1975


20. Or they’re loudest, craziest person you’ve ever met!

Terp Fans Painted Red, 2003


Is there someone you think we missed? Leave a comment and let us know!

The 15 Best Maryland Athletic Nicknames of All-Time

 15. Ed and Dick Modzelewski – “Big Mo and Little Mo”

There is no better set of nicknames to describe the brother tandem of Ed and Dick Modzelewski. Dick followed his older brother Ed to the University of Maryland in the early 1950s, where they both became a force to be reckoned with on the gridiron. Both brothers were selected in the NFL draft following their time at Maryland.


14. Charles Driesell – “Lefty”

Ever wonder why legendary Maryland basketball coach Charles Driesell is nicknamed “Lefty?” Don’t over-think it. Driesell was nicknamed “Lefty” in grade school because he’s left-handed. The nickname followed him to Maryland, where it remains synonymous with Terps basketball.


13. Harry Clifton Byrd – “Curley”

If you’re going to be one of the most prominent figures in University of Maryland history, you’d better have a cool nickname right? Former university president, Harry Clifton Byrd, known to many only as “Curley,” got the nickname from his black, curly hair. Byrd was a huge supporter of Maryland athletics and was an exceptional athlete himself.

Curley Byrd


12. Bombale Osby – “Boom”

Of course you remember fan favorite “Boom” Osby, who played for the Terps under Coach Gary Williams from 2006 to 2008. Osby claims he got his nickname from an old high school teammate, who would mispronounce his name “Boom-bale.” His nickname certainly represented his aggressive and intense playing style.

photo courtesy of:
photo courtesy of:

11. Ralph Friedgen- “The Fridge”

Former Maryland football coach Ralph Friedgen is affectionately nicknamed “The Fridge” in reference to his last name and his size. “The Fridge” played football for Maryland from 1966 to 1968 and was an assistant coach before becoming head coach of the Terps football team from 2001 to 2010.


10. Brene Mosely- “Bones”

Current women’s basketball guard Brene Mosely got the nickname “Bones” from one of her youth basketball coaches who thought she was incredibly skinny. Years later, the nickname has stuck around.

photo courtesy of:
photo courtesy of:

9. Chet Hanulak – “The Jet”

Star running back Chester Hanulak was an integral part of Maryland’s 1953 National Championship football team. It is no surprise to anyone who has seen footage of him playing why his nickname became “Chet The Jet.” As a senior, Hanulak sprinted through defenses with ease on his way to finishing the season with an average of 9.78 yards per carry, a Terps’ record that still stands.



8. Norman Esiason – “Boomer”

Most people are surprised to hear that Boomer is actually the nickname, and not the birth name, of the former Terp quarterback. Esiason actually received the nickname “Boomer” before he was even born. It was his constant kicking in the womb that prompted his mother to give him the fitting nickname. Maybe Boomer would have made an excellent punter or kicker for the Terps in addition to quarterback. I guess we will never know.

Boomer Esiason_1984

7. Vernon Davis – “The Duke,” and “Cyborg”

Vernon Davis is the only athlete on our list to boast not just one, but two nicknames! Davis got the nickname “Duke” because he looks exactly like his father, whose name is Duke. At Maryland, Davis’ teammates changed the nickname to “The Duke.” Davis’ Maryland teammates also gave him the nickname “Cyborg” in reference to his freakish athletic ability. Davis is still living up to the “Cyborg” nickname as a current member of the San Francisco 49ers.

photo courtesy of" USA Today
photo courtesy of” USA Today

6. Howard White – “H”

Howard White, simply known as “H,” will forever be known as the man who helped Michael Jordan launch his wildly popular Jordan Brand. But before joining forces with MJ, White was a playground legend and Maryland star. White, who grew up idolizing Oscar Robertson, came to Maryland wanting to be like “Big O.” Instead, Lefty Driesell assured him that if he listened to everything he said, White, already known as “H,” could wear his nickname on the back of his uniform. So he did. Howard White is the only Maryland athlete that we know of that actually wore his nickname on his uniform.

H White

5. Renaldo Nehemiah – “Skeets”

Maryland track star Renaldo Nehemiah was always fast. In fact, he got his nickname “Skeets” because he crawled so fast as a baby. Skeets set world records while at Maryland and dominated the track world from 1978-1981. He was ranked number one in the world for four consecutive years before going on to play wide receiver in the NFL.


4. Crystal Langhorne – “The Franchise”

As a key component of the 2006 women’s basketball NCAA Championship team, Langhorne was often the go-to player for the Terps. That’s why her teammates called her “The Franchise.” We can’t think of a player more deserving of that nickname. She became the first player in Maryland men’s or women’s basketball history to score 2,000 points and record 1,000 rebounds. Langhorne now plays in the WNBA where she is a two-time all-star.

photo courtesy of: gettyimages
photo courtesy of: gettyimages

3. Shawne Merriman – “Lights Out”

Shawne Merriman was a nightmare for opposing offenses during his time at Maryland. However, it was in high school where Merriman earned the nickname “Lights Out” after knocking four opposing players unconscious during the first half of a game. The Maryland native would go on to have a successful career in the NFL as a three-time All-Pro.


2. Walt Williams – “The Wizard”

We told you that Howard “H” White was the only player to wear his nickname on the back of his jersey, but as you can see below, Walt Williams took his nickname to a whole different level. Williams was given the nickname “The Wizard” by former Maryland coach Bob Wade in reference to his finesse passing and ball-handling skills.

Walt Williams

1. Randy White – “The Manster”

To be fair, Randy White’s nickname “The Manster” is not one he earned while playing at Maryland, but that doesn’t mean the nickname is not one of the best to ever be given to a Maryland athlete. It wasn’t until White was with the Dallas Cowboys that he earned the name “The Manster.” His Cowboys teammate Charlie Waters was the first to use the nickname explaining “the way Randy plays he has to be part-man and part-monster.”

Randy White


Honorable Mentions: Bob “Turtle” Smith, “Chief” Millard Tydings, Maureen “Bean” Scott

Maryland defense stops "Turkey" Jones of Johns Hopkins, Maryland Agricultural College football, 1919

Leroy Mackert Stuns Maryland-Hopkins Rivalry, 1920

In the spirit of Thanksgiving, we thought it would be appropriate to share a bit of Maryland athletics/Thanksgiving history. In a 2012 blog post, we told you about the bitter athletic rivalry between Maryland and Johns Hopkins in the early twentieth century, including the annual football contest between the two. This game was nearly always held on Thanksgiving day, and usually determined the state championship. No single game better exemplifies the rivalry than the 1920 Thanksgiving Day matchup.

Maryland Agricultural College vs. Johns Hopkins Football Game, 1919
Maryland Agricultural College vs. Johns Hopkins Football Game, 1919

The year is 1920, Thanksgiving Day, state title up for grabs, and Hopkins hasn’t scored a touchdown against the Maryland squad since 1910. Just when you thought the rivalry between Hopkins and Maryland couldn’t get any more exciting, enter Leroy Mackert.

Leroy Mackert
Leroy Mackert

Leroy Mackert was Maryland’s star tackle and fullback, a true force to be reckoned with on the field. What makes Mackert so controversial, however, is the simple fact that he had attended Lebanon Valley College before transferring to Maryland where he would play the 1919 and 1920 seasons. In the weeks leading up to the big Thanksgiving game, Hopkins Athletic Director Ronald Abercrombie suddenly began making claims questioning the eligibility of Mackert. Hopkins accused Maryland of playing an athlete who had used up all of his collegiate eligibility in Junior College. In response to the accusations, Maryland coach Curly Byrd fired back that Mackert had been and was still eligible to play.

Maryland defense stops "Turkey" Jones of Johns Hopkins, Maryland Agricultural College football, 1919
Maryland defense stops “Turkey” Jones of Johns Hopkins, Maryland Agricultural College football, 1919

After the game Hopkins demanded that Maryland had to apologize for playing Mackert and if not, they would cut off athletic relations with Maryland. Needless to say, neither happened. Leroy Mackert went on to play football professionally and serve in the military. He also returned to his alma mater as an assistant coach and physical education instructor. He will always be remembered by Terps fans as the guy who abruptly turned the world of Maryland collegiate sports upside down.

From the 1979 Diamondback – Archives aid researchers

In skimming through the 1979 Diamondback we came across a headline that naturally caught our eye: “Archives aid researchers, McKeldin room gains popularity.” We’re glad to see that students and researchers were so satisfied in 1979, however, we’ve come along way and have a bigger space with even more resources now in 2014! So stop in Hornbake Library and discover the archives for yourself! We have plenty of knowledgeable librarians ready to help.

Small correction in the article. The Archives was established in 1972, not 1976.

Archival Mysteries: The Stolen Silver

Between the evening of June 19 and the morning of June 20, 1969, thieves broke into the Memorial Chapel on the University of Maryland campus. They made it past the new lock system and found their way into Room 13. Why this particular spot? Room 13 happened to be where the Chapel’s silver was housed, including the communion set donated to the Chapel by its architect, Henry Powell Hopkins.

Memorial Chapel

Continue reading “Archival Mysteries: The Stolen Silver”